Musical Musings: September 26 – October 2, 2021

Music Notes – Sunday, September 26th:  

This Sunday’s musicians are UUCC Music Director Mike Carney and members of the UUCC Chancel Choir. 

Centering Music: “Nemo Egg” – Newman

Born in Los Angeles, composer Thomas Newman (b. 1955) is primarily known for his film scores, which include The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, and many others. He comes from a large family of musicians and composers, most notably his father Alfred Newman (a nine-time Oscar winner for best film score) his older brother David Newman (also a film composer with nearly 100 scores to his credit) and his cousin Randy Newman (a successful singer-songwriter and film composer). Thomas Newman’s score for the 2003 Disney/Pixar animated film Finding Nemo was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Score and won numerous other accolades, including the 2004 BMI Film Music Award. 

Opening Hymn: # 301 Touch the Earth, Reach the Sky – McLaren 

Classically trained at the renowned Eastman Conservatory of Music, Maine native Grace Lewis-McLaren (b. 1939) is a Unitarian Universalist musician who has served our faith in many different roles for numerous congregations. McLaren wrote “Touch the Earth, Reach the Sky” (Singing the Living Tradition #301) to support the theme of the 1988 UU General Assembly in Palm Springs, California, where it was first sung as part of the opening ceremony. 

Sung Meditation: #197 There Are Numerous Strings in Your Lute – Tagore, arr. Carney

Winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature, Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was an Indian poet, author, philosopher, activist and artist. Tagore was also an accomplished composer who wrote more than two thousand songs, including two which are now used as the national anthems of India and Bangladesh. His poem and accompanying melody for “There Are Numerous Strings in Your Lute” were first published in 1917 and the song appears as #197 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnbook. The choral arrangement you’ll hear on Sunday is by UUCC Music Director Mike Carney

Offertory music: A Model of the Universe – Jóhannsson

Jóhann Jóhannsson (1969-2018) was an Icelandic composer whose music is difficult to categorize, as it incorporated and blended elements of classical, folk, jazz, electronic and contemporary popular music. Jóhannsson composed “A Model of the Universe” for the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, and his score for that film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score and won the Golden Globe in the same category. Of this piece of music, Jóhannsson wrote: “There are many circular and geometric visual motifs scattered throughout the film, and I was very aware of this geometry and tried to echo it with the music. I worked with patterns that slowly mutate and are deconstructed and then re-assembled in various renderings throughout the film – patterns within patterns, like fractals. There is a great scene in the film where Hawking describes his quest for ‘a simple, elegant equation which explains everything’. So, obviously in a much smaller and humbler way, I attempted to do something similar with music, to express complex emotions and an intricate and fascinating story with the simplest means available to me.”

Closing Hymn: #1017 Building a New Way

Martha Sandefer (b. 1952) is an American vocalist and composer who is currently involved with the Work o’ the Weavers project. She wrote “Building a New Way” in 1986 and her song was later arranged by Jim Scott (b. 1946) and included as #1017 in our Singing the Journey hymnbook.

Postlude: Equinox – Coltrane 

Saxophonist and composer John Coltrane (1926-1967) was one of the most significant pioneers of American jazz. He was at the forefront of the hard bop and free jazz movements and collaborated often with Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and many other jazz greats of the 1950s and 60s. He is one of the most influential saxophonists ever to play the instrument, and received numerous awards, including a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 2007, citing his “masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz.” Coltrane wrote and began performing “Equinox” in 1960, and the song (untitled when it was first written and recorded) was named “Equinox” by Coltrane’s wife Naima, who was inspired by the fact that Coltrane’s birthday (September 23rd, 1926) came the day after that year’s autumnal equinox. 

Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director